First Information: FY 2016 Senate NASA, NIST, NOAA and NSF Funding Bill

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Publication date: 
11 June 2015
Number: 
81

This morning the full Senate Appropriations Committee met and approved by a vote of 27-3 their FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill.  The $51.1 billion bill provides funding for NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation.  The House passed its version of this bill earlier this month.

The committee has not yet released the report accompanying this bill with all-important program funding levels and policy guidance.  It has issued a press release providing the first information about this bill.

Senate appropriators are operating under the Budget Control Act that holds FY 2016 funding for domestic discretionary programs at the current 2015 level.  The amount available for the Senate bill was about $310 million less than for the House bill.  The Senate bill is $965 million above this year’s level but $985 million below that requested by the Obama Administration. 

In commenting on the bill, Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) stated “Within prudent fiscal boundaries, this bill achieves a careful balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, economic development, scientific research, and space exploration.  As a result, this bill represents responsible spending at a time when America is living within a constrained budget.”

NASA:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $18,010.2 million
The FY 2016 request is $18,529.1 million, an increase of $518.9 million or 2.9 percent
The House bill provides $18,529.1 million, an increase of $518.9 million or 2.9 percent

The Senate release states:

“The bill funds NASA at $18.3 billion, a $279 million increase over FY2015, to support the human and robotic exploration of space, fund science missions that enhance the understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe, and support fundamental aeronautics research.  This includes:

“$1.9 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $200 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $544 million above the request.  The SLS is the nation’s launch vehicle which will enable humans to explore space beyond our current capabilities.  The funding maintains the current schedule for the first launch of SLS, and also provides critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions.

“$1.2 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, the same as the FY2015 enacted level and $104 million above the request.  Orion is NASA’s crewed vehicle that is being designed to be able to take astronauts to destinations farther than ever before, including Mars.

“$5.3 billion for Science, $50 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $6.4 million above the request.  This funding encompasses missions from the Earth, to the Moon, throughout the Solar system, and the far reaches of the universe.

“$2.5 billion for International Space Station (ISS) Crew and Cargo, an increase of $170 million over the comparable amount funded in FY2015.  Within these funds, $900 million is included for ISS crew capabilities, $100 million over the FY2015 enacted level, to continue development of privately-owned crewed vehicles.  Once developed and fully tested, these vehicles will help end the United States’ reliance on Russia for transporting American astronauts to and from the ISS.

“$600 million for Space Technology, $4 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  Funding is included to advance projects that are early in development that will eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.”

NIST:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $863.9 million
The FY 2016 request is $1,119.7 million, an increase of $255.8 million or 29.6 percent
The House bill provides $855.0 million, a decrease of $8.9 million or 1.0 percent below current funding

The Senate release states:

“The bill provides $893 million for NIST, $29 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  The funding will strengthen the U.S. cybersecurity posture through cutting-edge research and development, expand opportunities in the areas of advanced manufacturing, and continue promotion of the highest quality standards to maintain fairness in the marketplace.”

NOAA:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $5,448.9 million
The FY 2016 request is $5,982.6 million, an increase of $533.7 or 9.8 percent
The House bill provides $5,167.3 million, a decrease of $281.6 million or 5.2 percent below current funding

The Senate release states:

“NOAA is funded at $5.4 billion, which includes a $23 million increase above the FY2015 enacted level for the National Weather Service.  The bill provides full funding for NOAA’s flagship weather satellites, which are critical for accurate weather warnings to protect lives and property.  Funding for NOAA also targets new areas of investment for fisheries management, including the testing and implementation of new technologies to expand opportunities for American commercial and recreational fishermen.”

National Science Foundation:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $7,344.2 million
The FY 2016 request is $7,723.6 million, an increase of $379.3 million or 5.2 percent
The House bill provides $7,394.2 million, an increase of $50.0 million or 0.7 percent

The Senate release states:

“The bill funds the NSF at $7.3 billion, maintaining the FY2015 enacted level.  Funding is provided for basic research across all scientific disciplines and to support the development of effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] programs and grow the next generation of scientists.”